Friday, July 15, 2016

Not About The Wall

Donald Trump had reportedly decided on his choice of a running mate, even informing Mike Pence that he was the one, before the apparent terrorist attack in Nice, France Thursday night.

Most speculation had come down to the Indiana governor and Newt Gingrich, with Chris Christie a longshot, in the last few days.

Always a sucker for bad taste, Sean Hannity led off his Thuirsday night interview (excerpt below) with Gingrich by saying "Mr. Speaker, I don't really want to tie this into politics but...." thereby signaling that he wanted to make a political issue, promptly, out of the murder of 75+ individuals. Gingrich replied to Hannity's by maintaining

Let me be as blunt and direct as I can be. Western cviilization is in a war. We should, frankly, test every person from here who is of a Muslim background and if the believe in Sharia law, they should be deported. Sharia is incompatible with Wetern civilization.

Noting the latter statement, Salon's Sophia Tesfaye added of Gingrich's appearance

....the former speaker of the House doubled down on his reckless style of politics in either a last-ditch appeal to Trump or a craven elevation of his longstanding attacks on Islam.

Appearing on his show for the second time in as many days, Gingrich said Thursday that calling Islam a “religion of peace” is “bologna.”

“It’s not that Islamists are necessarily evil, but they’re not necessarily a religion of peace.”

“To suggest that Muslims are acceptable as long as they don’t believe in sharia," The Atlantic's David A. Graham writes, "is a little like saying Christians are OK as long as they don’t believe the Gospel." Lest anyone misunderstand him, Gingrich added "anybody who goes on a website favoring ISIS or al Qaeda or other terrorist groups, that should be a felony, and they should go to jail. Any organization which hosts such a website should be engaged in a felony. It should be closed down immediately."

Gingrich's proposals are unworkable and unconstitutional. However, it's unlikely that would have been a problem for the presumptive nominee, who wants to build a wall likely costing tens of billions of dollars and to re-open libel laws.  Neither pragmatism nor the US Constitution would be seen by a President Trump as an impediment to his agenda.

But there is an assumption seemingly held by Tesfaye and most other people that  radical prescriptions offered by Gingrich are thoroughly compatible with Trump's intentions.   In that reading, the former House Speaker was bypassed for the Veep position despite, not because, of his approach to immigration.

Although the common view, that might be the reverse of reality.  The  respected and moderately conservative author and commentator Reihan Salam notes

I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but one of the biggest reasons Trump won the GOP presidential nomination is that he pledged to strengthen America’s borders, oppose amnesty, and reduce immigration levels.

Salam acknowledges that as Trump's coat-holder, Mike Pence will back Trump's immigration policies to the hilt. However, he reminds us

Back in 2006, when then–President George W. Bush was leading the charge for comprehensive immigration reform, Pence devised an ingenious yet almost certainly unworkable amnesty proposal. Essentially, Pence proposed that unauthorized immigrants return to their native countries and then re-enter the United States as “guest workers.” As guest workers, these women and men would enjoy legal status yet would also be denied various rights and privileges granted to lawful permanent residents. The genius of this proposal, if you can call it that, is that it infuriated every possible constituency: opponents of an amnesty for unauthorized immigrants, conservatives who favor reducing immigration levels, and advocates who want to ensure that poor immigrants are not taken advantage of by unscrupulous employers.

Trump's hatred for women (without large breasts) and Hispanics may be largely a feint, something which in its vehemence set him apart from his 17 GOP opponents and built him the popular base which has put him on the verge of being crowned presidential nominee.  Even if he is sincere, opposition to the wall combined with pressure from his Party's donor base would give him pause. The outcry from the left over his extravagant, unrealistic immigration policy may be, in a manner unsuspected, just the point: it would not be his priority as President. In its place would be something worse

Upon speculation in August, 2014 that Pence might run for the presidential nomination, two Politico writers explained

A former talk show host who led a crusade to defund Planned Parenthood in the House, Pence has worked to spotlight the fiscal issues that animate the Kochs’ political giving. People close to the brothers say he first earned their network’s admiration during the George W. Bush years, when he opposed what he deemed Big Government policies backed by his own party, including No Child Left Behind and a Medicare expansion, and repeatedly warned that the GOP was veering off course.

“There’s ideological alignment between those two universes,” said Matt Mackowiak, a Texas GOP consultant who was hired years ago to work as press secretary for former Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) by Marc Short, who was then her chief of staff. Short went on to become Pence’s chief of staff in late 2008 and now runs the Kochs’ political umbrella group Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce. “They wouldn’t have plucked Marc out of that world if they didn’t have confidence in not only Marc, but also Pence, who occupies a unique place in conservative politics right now,” said Mackowiak.

And at the time

“The whole Koch operation has become the shadow headquarters of Pence for President,” asserted a strategist with close ties to GOP congressional leadership and to Koch organizations.

The Kochs’ allies reject this characterization, suggesting instead that they’re merely fans of Pence, as they are of other fiscally conservative politicians, because of his support for the type of small-government and free-enterprise policies they see as key to prosperity.

Freedom Partners spokesman James Davis said, “Many governors, including Gov. Pence, have shown strong support for free-market policies that improve peoples’ lives, and we could use more of that type of principled leadership to drive common sense solutions in Washington.”

But there are few other Republican politicians with as many highly placed allies working in key positions in the Kochs’ political network.

Certainly there are- and many of them would find places in a Trump Administration or be formal (or informal) advisors.  Realizing it helps keep wages low, immigration is not a phobia of the Koch brothers, who do not take a hard-line view of illegal immigration, Further, Trump's brazen assurance that Mexico "will pay for the wall"-  far from evidence of his determination to build a barrier- may be a hint that he isn't committed to it.

Surely, Mexico will balk at paying one cent toward its construction or maintenance. Coupled with the near-certainty the wall would be far more expensive than he is letting on, that might be all a President Trump would need to abandon a drive toward ending immigration and replacing itt with a far more traditional, corporate-friendly Administration. The rejection of Newt Gingrich and nomination of Mike Pence might be only the beginning.

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